Hardy Boys 06: The Shore Road Mystery: The Shore Road Mystery | Chapter 18 of 27 - Part: 1 of 4

Author: Franklin W. Dixon | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 4403 Views | Add a Review

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CHAPTER XII

Planted Evidence?

“MELLIMAN!” Joe exclaimed.

The boys told Tony of their visit from the unctuous New York businessman.

“I wish we could trail him,” said Frank. “But we’d never catch him.”

“On whose property is that bluff?” Tony asked.

Joe referred to a map. “According to this, that beach is part of Birnham’s property! He owns land on both sides of Shore Road.”

As Frank headed back to the Bayport dock area, he said, “Slagel, Birnham, a spider-man, and now Melliman—they’re like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. But I think we’re at least fitting some of them into place.”

Back in their crime lab, the brothers discussed the latest leads in the mystery.

“We must find out where the shipment mentioned in the telegram is to take place,” Frank declared. “It must be a load of stolen cars.”

Joe suggested the possibility of the cars being moved out of the Bayport area by truck.

“I’m thinking of Birnham’s covered produce job that blocked us. It’s big enough to carry two cars at a time.”

Suddenly an idea came to Frank. “When Chet and I had that narrow squeak with Birnham’s tractor I noticed a truck—maybe Birnham’s—heading south on Shore Road past us.”

“Let’s call Chief Collig and suggest his patrols take a look inside the truck.”

“Good idea.”

The Bayport chief proved reluctant at first to conduct the search, largely because the farmer himself had been the first victim of the automobile thieves. But at length he promised to do so.

Collig mentioned that the police, too, were being flooded by letters of protest over the continuing thefts. Another car had been stolen—and recovered—in Bridgewater that morning.

“Jack Dodd’s identification bracelet was found under the front seat,” he added.

“Planted, of course,” said Joe. “The poor guy.”

“We’re inclined to agree,” Collig said. “We’re running twenty-four-hour patrols, and, with the Bridgewater department, several roadblocks. I hope we’ll have some word on your friends or their uncle soon.”

But when the chief called after receiving reports from his men, the result was a disappointment to the boys. The Birnham truck, returning from Bayport to the farm, had been halted but only empty crates had been found inside.

By suppertime Joe said he was completely recovered and suggested that they watch Pembroke Road that night.

“Joe,” said Frank, “remember your idea about the gang’s decoy tactics? We may be up against the same trick at Pembroke. The postmark on that last note, tire marks near Pembroke, maybe even Slagel’s moving to Bridgewater—it’s just too pat. A couple of those thefts could be phonies to draw the police and us away from Shore Road!”

Joe agreed, and they decided to watch only the farm that night. The boys wired their father in code about the net and Melliman, then changed into fresh sport clothes and telephoned Chet they wanted him along. They picked him up in Mr. Hardy’s car, and stationed themselves beyond a rise in the road. From there they had a better view of the dirt lane leading to Birnham’s farm.

Shortly after midnight, it began to rain, and the boys shivered under wet ponchos for four hours. Finally, having spotted nothing suspicious, they returned to the car and drove back toward Bayport. Chet looked longingly at an open frankfurter stand as they passed it.

“How’s the diet?” Joe asked. “You’ve lost weight. But it’ll be a phenomenon when one Chester Morton loses his appetitel”

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